Taking Care of Business

An update of Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson for the truly pudd’nheaded, Taking Care of Business is the latest — and perhaps the lamest — movie version of the old switched-identity theme. Uptight ad exec Charles Grodin loses his Filofax at the L.A. airport, where it is found by lovable escaped con James Belushi. While Belushi uses his new identity to crash at a Malibu mansion, score with the boss’ daughter, and screw up big business deals, nonperson Grodin staggers around town, getting mugged, arrested, and generally humiliated. The further possibilities for such a double reversal of fortunes might seem virtually limitless, but director Arthur Hiller (The In-Laws) consistently aims low, sticking to predictable situations, four-letter gag lines, and basic physical humor, for which he has no discernible knack.

Although Taking Care didn’t do much business at the box office, it’s just the sort of vaguely familiar title that videocassette renters find themselves watching on those nights when all the known quantities seem to be out of stock. The only real reason to recommend this film is Grodin’s deadpan, slow-burn performance as a control freak who has lost control. He can’t salvage the movie, but it’s strangely entertaining to watch him try so desperately.

Taking Care of Business
  • Movie
  • 107 minutes